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Aquinnah Town

Aquinnah Town Hall is located at 65 State Road, Aquinnah, MA 02535; phone: 508-645-2300.

Clay Cliffs and Lighthouse, Aquinnah, MA
Photo: Clay Cliffs and Lighthouse, Aquinnah, MA, photographed by Arwcheek, 2008,, accessed March, 2011.

Formerly the Town of Gay Head (incorporated in 1871), residents voted to change the name which became effective in May of 1998.

The Town is noted for its mile-long, dangerous, rocky cliffs. Aquinnah is the western most town on the Island of Martha's Vineyard which lies about 5 miles south of the tip of Cape Cod.

Gay Head (now Aquinnah) in the 1930s was one of two Massachusetts towns which was still mainly occupied by people of Indian descent. A paradoxical situation occurred in 1711, when the Society for Propagating the Gospel purchased the lads at Gay Head for the sole use of the Indians, their original proprietors. In the early days fishing, whaling and agriculture furnished the chief source of revenue which, at its best, was scanty. Labor in the cranberry bogs and the sale of bowls and jars fashioned from the colored clays of the cliffs became a major source of livelihood for the people of the town during this period. [1]

  1. Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for Massachusetts, Massachusetts: A Guide to Its Places and People, American Guide Series, The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1937.
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